Sleeping giant: Tim Williams of Jetsleeper

After appearing on the BBC's Dragons' Den, Tim Williams was promptly booted off without a penny. A year and a half on and his travel pillow invention Jetsleeper is a roaring success.

Where did you get the idea?

I was on a long-haul flight returning from a scuba diving trip, and suddenly realised just how uncomfortable the blow-up pillows are. So I decided to develop my own product.

Where did you get the funding?

I originally put £12,000 of my own savings and bank overdraft into the business. I then went on Dragons’ Den to get a further £175,000 investment to market and advertise the business. After I was refused, I didn’t get any additional investment, but the business became self-funding.

Did the Dragons teach you anything?

No. I decided to ignore them entirely and steam right ahead. I believed enough in what I was doing to take no notice of them. Duncan Bannatyne said I’d be lucky if I even sold ten – I’ve since proved him completely wrong.

How did you manage to promote the product?

I went to a travel event and I made sales of £4,000. I also managed to get the email address of a journalist who then featured the product in The Sunday Times. This led to a further £6,000 in sales. With this money I was then able to advertise in some national papers and magazines – which has easily paid for itself.

What’s your next move?

I want to create a national brand. We are soon to start selling in the US as there is a big market with the Greyhound bus. I’m also looking at New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, as these are countries where a lot of the population use aeroplanes.

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

Related Topics

Dragons' Den

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